Full disclosure: Former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, whose criminal conviction was recently upheld by the D.C. Circuit, is a friend of mine. We grew up in the same town and have known one another for decades. In no way is what follows unbiased or objective in any sense. That said, I know that I’m right and the case against Kevin Ring was simply, unambiguously wrong. Not to say that there was no ambiguity as to whether he broke a law — there was a tiny bit of that. But under no sane system of justice would Kevin be going to federal prison. Though he almost certainly is, pending a request for en banc rehearing from the D.C. Circuit followed by a Hail Mary filing for a writ of certiorari.
We can all stipulate that Jack Abramoff is one of the sleaziest and most repellent characters to besmirch the legal profession in decades. (My favorite Abramoff moment: the time he tried convince his rabbi to bestow upon him a fake, back-dated “Scholar of Talmudic Studies” award, so he could get in the Cosmos Club.)
Anyway, Abramoff was Kevin’s boss for three and a half years, during the final period of which they were both partners at Greenberg Traurig. In the words of the judge at his sentencing hearing, Kevin was a “cog” in the Abramoff operation, a “second-tier level” administrator of the firm’s lobbying team. I won’t try to spin Kevin’s time as a lobbyist as some honorable endeavor. I couldn’t. Generally speaking, lobbyists are regarded by most of us as only slightly less distasteful than the politicians whose favor they are trying to curry. But that does not make them criminals….
There’s a legal equivalent to Baldwin’s doctor, and it’s not a judge or even a senior partner. For the biggest “God Complexes” (“God Complii?”) look to your friendly neighborhood prosecutors. Imbued with extraordinary power through the charging process and the investigatory resources of the government, prosecutors can get used to getting their way and indifferent to the plight of defendants, witnesses, and counsel. And nothing can raise their ire more than someone unwilling to cooperate. “How dare they defy me?”
Take the case of Kevin Ring, a Jack Abramoff acolyte sentenced to almost two years of prison time, whose conviction was just upheld by the D.C. Circuit (opinion available here). I’m not a huge fan of lobbyists, but the transgressions proved at Ring’s trial look way too small to justify his sentence.
Instead, it looks like his primary crime was not cooperating with the almighty government….
The current CEO of Greenberg Traurig, Richard Rosenbaum, recently gave an interview to the Daily Business Review in which he discussed the firm’s recent capital call (among other subjects). We mentioned the interview in Morning Docket, but because it contains a lot of grist for the mill, it merits a second look.
The subtext of the interview — and, at one point, the explicit text of the interview — could be summarized as, “Look, we are not like Dewey!” The bad news is that such statements should even be necessary. The good news is that they seem to be true (at least based on the information currently available).
* All may not be genetically sound with Suri babies of holoprosencephaly sufferers. (But does genetic perfection really exist?) And once again, wordplay gets us out of the woods of potential litigation by a crazy actor midget. [Overlawyered]
* Jack Abramoff has been hitting the books in the prison law library and will represent himself in two lawsuits filed against him by Indian tribes. I think “kitchen duty and carpentry” is prison-speak for “shower activities.” [Law.com]
* Off-ensive or just off-menu? Not brought to you by the people who brought you this refreshing drink. [Vivir Latino via Racialicious]
* Remember when we used to de-contract words (e.g., “does not” for “doesn’t”) to inch our way towards the minimum word requirement? [FN1] Apparently, this is the only way law school is not like high school. [PrawfsBlawg]
[FN1] Enough already! law professors lament. And yes, smart aleck, footnotes do count toward the word limit.
* Running with Scissors writer Augusten Burroughs is being sued for libel, not for his part in the adaptation of his memoir into the abysmally bad film version. [Vanity Fair]
* Any future husband of mine should be so lucky as to take on “Q” as their last name, or our combined last name. But for the record, could it be that “Buday” is pronounced “booty”? [ACLU of Southern California via PrawfsBlawg]
We previously put out a call for juicy info about big-ticket legal fees. Consider that discovery request still pending; you haven’t given us much in response.
Instead, we have to rely upon other sources for information about fees. Like NYU law professor Burt Neuborne’s five-million-dollar tab for his work for Holocaust survivors, reported in the MSM. Or this latest news, from the AP:
Republican Rep. John Doolittle of California paid an attorney more than $38,000 in recent months to talk to the Justice Department in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation, new campaign finance reports show.
A spokeswoman said the money was spent after Doolittle asked his attorney, David Barger [of Williams Mullen], to contact the Justice Department “to further express the congressman’s willingness to be helpful and satisfy the Justice Department that the congressman has done nothing wrong.”
Interesting. Barger is a very experienced lawyer and former federal prosecutor. We’re guessing he bills out at $500 an hour (at least; correct us if we’re wrong). That comes out to at least 75 hours worth of work, which is not insignificant. Clearly Barger did more than just have a two-hour sitdown with DOJ lawyers to earn almost $40K in fees.
And Barger isn’t Congressman Doolittle’s only counsel:
The campaign finance report also shows Doolittle paying $13,000 in legal fees to a second law firm, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, that he has used regularly for years.
ATL extends its warmest congratulations to Alice S. Fisher, who was just confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division — one of the most important and high-ranking posts at the Department of Justice. The vote was 61-35, with 7 Democrats crossing the aisle to support her.*
The Senate sure took its sweet time in confirming Alice Fisher. Back in August 2005, the White Collar Crime Prof Blog asked: When Will the Senate Confirm Alice Fisher to Lead the Criminal Division? It noted that Fisher was nominated as Crim Div AAG back in April — of 2005, mind you — and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2005.
We’re delighted by this news, ’cause we can’t get enough of the brassy, blonde, tough-talking Fisher. In Washingtonian magazine’s July 2006 list of “40 Top Lawyers Under 40,” Fisher came in second (behind Solicitor General Paul Clement). The magazine quoted lawyers who described Fisher — a 1992 graduate of Catholic University Law School, and a protege of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff — as a “tornado” during her time at Latham & Watkins (where she was a partner before joining the Justice Department).**
Fisher is a native of Kentucky — but based on her bad-ass demeanor, you’d guess she emerged from the mean streets of Brooklyn (pre-Yuppification). We can still recall Fisher’s press conference announcing charges against disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Fisher held forth like a sheriff from the Old West, making clear to Capitol Hill criminals that she would hunt them down and bring them to justice.
During her remarks, Fisher mispronounced Abramoff’s name — maybe she said something like “uh-BRAM-off” — over and over again. This led some Beltway insiders to snicker; tout le monde knew Jack Abramoff and the proper pronunciation of his name.
But we were loving it. Why? Rumor has it that this DOJ diva knew full well how to pronounce “Abramoff,” but mangled it on purpose — to send him a message. That message: “Congressmen have been kissing your ass for years. Everywhere you go in this town, people treat you like royalty. But to me, Mr. uh-BRAM-off, you’re just another common criminal — and I’m going to treat you like one. Bite me!” ALICE FISHER 4 EVER!!
* The seven Democrats who supported Fisher were Evan Bayh, Byron Dorgan, Russell Feingold, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, Kenneth Salazar. One Republican, Norm Coleman, did not vote.
** Michael Chertoff has a long and distinguished list of high-powered proteges. See here. Gonzales Statement on Confirmation of Alice S. Fisher as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division [DOJ press release] President Pleased by Senate Confirmation of Alice S. Fisher [WhiteHouse.gov] When Will the Senate Confirm Alice Fisher to Lead the Criminal Division? [White Collar Crime Prof Blog] Alice S. Fisher [National Law Journal]
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